Apple is reportedly planning to use chips from Intel as modem chips in some versions it next-generation iPhone model, Bloomberg reports. The Intel chips will replace the Qualcomm chips that have traditionally been used in prior iPhone models for GSM versions of the iPhone used on the U.S. AT&T network and some overseas markets, according to people familiar with the matter. Verizon iPhones will apparently continue to use Qualcomm chips for their CDMA network, as will iPhones sold in China.
A new report from Mac Otakara claims that the Apple will be releasing a “deep blue” color option for the next-generation “iPhone 7” expected to be released this fall, as an addition to the current silver, gold, and rose gold color options, although its source claims that is is “highly likely” that the space gray option will be discontinued in favor of the new deep blue color. The report also notes that the LCD glass surface of the new model will be the same as that of the current models.
A new report suggests that Apple may announce plans to release an iMessage app for Android at next week’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference in San Francisco. According to “a source familiar with the company’s thinking” cited by MacDailyNews, Apple’s goal behind such a move would be to focus more on its service offerings beyond its own iOS and OS X platforms, specifically pointing to reports that Apple is looking to add person-to-person Apple Pay payments via its messaging platform. The move would not be unprecedented, considering the release of Apple Music for Android devices late last year, and would potentially improve the messaging user experience for iOS users who have close friends and family members using Android devices, allowing them to communicate using iMessage features with all of their contacts, including the ability to properly participate in group messaging conversations, share videos and photos in full resolutions, and avoid other carrier SMS restrictions. While the source noted that the timing of the actual announcement could change between now and Monday, they emphasized that the iMessage service would “definitely” be coming to Android at some point this year.
The Bluetooth SIG appears to be on the verge of releasing the next generation of the Bluetooth specification, dubbed Bluetooth 5. In an email sent to SIG members, Executive Director Mark Powell revealed that the Core Specification Working Group is currently finalizing the next release, and that on June 16 the SIG will formally announce it, marketed simply as “Bluetooth 5.” Powell adds that the new branding drops version and point numbers in marketing in order to simply communications. Powell goes on to explain some of the technical benefits of Bluetooth 5, confirming previous reports that it will “quadruple the range and double the speed” for lower-energy Bluetooth communications, and will also deliver new functionality for location-relevant information and navigation designed to provide increased support and simpler deployment of beacons and Bluetooth location-based services around the world. Full details are expected to be revealed during a media event in London on June 16.
The U.S. Justice Department has asked that the Supreme Court overturn a smartphone patent litigation favoring Apple over Samsung, Reuters reports. The case stretches back to a 2012 jury verdict in which Samsung was ordered to pay Apple $930 million for multiple patent infringements by a wide range of Samsung devices. The amount was later reduced to $548 million by an appeals court, although the original patent infringement claims were upheld.
In an interview with The Verge, Apple worldwide marketing chief Phil Schiller revealed that the company is planning on announcing a major shift to its revenue-sharing model for app developers at next week’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference, which will put a greater emphasis on selling apps as subscriptions rather than one-time purchases. Schiller explained that Apple would retain the standard 70/30 revenue split for normal app purchases and initial subscriptions, but that developers who can maintain subscriptions with customers longer than a year will see a shift in the revenue-sharing model to an 85/15 split. As part of this change, the option for selling subscriptions will be opened up to all developers across all categories of apps — and Schiller says “that includes games, which is a huge category.”
Apple has been making plans to completely eliminate music downloads on the iTunes Store, according to a new report from Digital Music News. Sources “with close and active business relationships with Apple” have told Digital Music News that the company is actively considering a two-year termination timetable, and discussions within Apple have begun focusing on not if purchased music downloads should be retired for good, but rather when it’s going to happen. A range of shutdown timetables are apparently being considered by Apple, with executives suggesting that the company no longer expects to run the service indefinitely, although it may ride out iTunes music sales for a few more years until paid music downloads are eclipsed by “a streaming-dominated industry.”
While it’s unclear exactly why Apple would want to kill off a profitable business market — music industry analysts expect that iTunes music download revenue will still be around $600 million in 2019 — there may be concerns within Apple that the availability of digital download sales are limiting the success of the Apple Music streaming service by providing iTunes and iOS users with options, and that the overlap between Apple Music and the iTunes Store is creating product confusion, both in terms of purchasing products and in the combination of other overlapping services such as iCloud Music Library and iTunes Match. Further, despite the revenue from digital music sales, analysts suggest that music purchases in this form are in rapid decline, dropping by 15 to 30 percent year-over-year, suggesting that Apple may be planning a proactive exit strategy in a world that’s moving progressively more toward streaming services.
Update: A two-word refutation from Apple, as spokesman Tom Neumayr told Re/code that the report is simply “not true.”
Update 2, 6/8/16: Digital Music News is standing firm with its 2-3 year timeframe for Apple phasing out iTunes downloads, saying that sources with knowledge of the company’s plans are still adamant despite public denials. The site claims music downloads have entered a “free fall” this year and the decision to finally pull the plug on music download sales will depend on how sharply sales decline, how quickly streaming accelerates and the internal politics at Apple. It’s interesting that the site is doubling down despite Apple’s firm denial after the initial report was released — there’s a good possibility that factions inside Apple may be split on this issue.
The U.K. has passed a bill giving its spy agencies wide-reaching powers to hack computer systems and engage in bulk surveillance, but protests from Apple and other technology companies kept out requirements for weakened encryption, Bloomberg reports. Tim Cook expressed concerns that there would be “dire consequences” if the bill passed as it was first offered, with language mandating access points that subverted encryption to provide government access. The law allows for collecting metadata and using malware to infiltrate the computers and mobile phones of terror suspects, but makes it clear that companies aren’t responsible for building backdoors into their encryption. Under the law, companies will only be required to remove encryption at the government’s request if it’s “technically feasible and not unduly expensive.” How those provisions will be interpreted by British judges going forward is an open question.
Google has announced Motion Stills, a new iOS app that allows users to turn Live Photos from an iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus into animated looping GIFs that can more easily be shared with other users. Motion Stills uses Google’s own image stabilization technology to freeze Live Photo backgrounds or create sweeping cinematic pans, and users can combine multiple Live Photos into a movie montage. Loop optimization features help to identify optimal start and end points and discard blurry frames entirely, helping to fix “pocket shots.” Motion Stills is available for free from the App Store, and all processing is notably handled on the user’s iOS device, so no Google account or Internet connection is required to use the app. Our initial experience with Motion Stills was quite positive — it’s fun and user-friendly, and certainly worth a free download for those who use Live Photos.
A live stream from NBC Sports Radio is now available for free through the iOS Music app or iTunes. The station joins NPR and BBC World Service as free listening options for Apple users and includes sports talk personalities like Mike Florio, Chris Mannix, Amani Toomer and Rodney Harrison. The update comes ahead of a rumored overhaul of Apple Music expected to be unveiled at WWDC. [via Apple Insider]
The latest version of Instagram has a welcome addition for those wanting to share their pictures as they look at them in Photos. Now users can share their photos directly to Instagram without launching the app itself, by simply tapping the share button on the bottom left in Photos and adding Instagram to the options, using the “More” tab. After that, Instagram will appear in the listed options for sharing directly from the Photos app. The new feature lets users add a caption to photos and videos, but doesn’t offer any other editing features. To apply filters, users will still need to open the Instagram app and post their photos the standard way.
Apple has made another high-profile hire for its efforts to improve and expand HealthKit, Fast Company reports. Rajiv Kumar, who specializes in treating children with diabetes, drew attention in 2015 when he created a HealthKit-enabled diabetes monitoring system for kids. His former employer, the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University, confirmed Kumar will maintain a part-time appointment at the hospital, but CEO Christopher Dawes said, “We can’t compete with companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook when they really want one of our own.”
India’s government may allow Apple to open retail stores in the country and provide a 2-3 year exemption from local sourcing requirements, The Times of India reports. Apple was expected to be completely exempted from laws requiring companies to source 30 percent of their products’ material locally because of the company’s status as a provider of “cutting-edge technology”, but the company’s application to bypass those rules was rejected by India’s finance minister two weeks ago. Sources now say that discussions have begun between the finance ministry and Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion aimed at granting Apple the waiver, but only in the first few years of Apple’s retail store operations.
Apple has hired Sinisa Durekovic, the software engineer behind the development of satellite navigation systems for several luxury carmakers, Bloomberg reports. Durekovic, who has more than 20 years of experience in developing satellite navigation software, was previously the principal architect and chief engineer for navigation at Harman International Industries, which develops in-car navigation systems for several high-end car manufacturers, including BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi. According to the report, Durekovic joined Apple in an “unspecified role” back in October, although it seems logical that his skills will be put to use in areas such as improving Apple Maps, CarPlay, or Apple’s much-rumored electric car project. Apple has recently made a stronger push toward Apple Maps development, opening an office in Hyperabad, India last month, where it will employ 4,000 staff focused on developing its mapping platform. Spokespersons for Apple and Harman had no comments to make on the hiring; Durekovic didn’t respond to a request for an interview.
Less than a month after the release of iTunes 12.4, Apple has pushed out iTunes 12.4.1, a minor maintenance update that addresses a number of problems with VoiceOver, restores the option to Reset Plays, and fixes issues with Up Next playing songs in the incorrect order and crossfading between songs. The update is available for direct download from www.iTunes.com or via Apple’s Software Update tools.
The Unicode Consortium has approved 72 new emoji for inclusion in the Unicode 9.0 standard, scheduled for release this month, expanding on the existing base of 1,601 emoji with a handful of new symbols that have long been requested. The new emoji build on existing themes, such as facial expressions, animals, and food, and a new roster of sports and medal-style characters have also been introduced in time for the Rio Olympics. Specific new emoji include a selfie, shrugs, clowns, face palms, and rolling-on-the-floor-laughing, while new animals include bats, rhinos, owls, and sharks. Croissants, pancakes, bacon, avocados, and kiwi fruit will be added to the food roster. Although the Unicode 9.0 standard becomes official this month, Apple will still have to add support for the new emoji to iOS. With the announcement of iOS 10 around the corner, it’s unclear whether these will appear in a coming point update to iOS 9 or whether users will have to wait until iOS 10, likely in the fall, before seeing the new characters.
Apple has re-released the iOS 9.3.2 update for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, after pulling the update last month due to “bricking” issues with that particular model. While other iOS devices were unaffected, many users of Apple’s newest iPad Pro model found themselves faced with “Error 56” messages after applying the update, rendering their devices unusable, and needing to be replaced by Apple. The new version of iOS 9.3.2, which doesn’t bear any obvious numbering to differentiate it from the last one, addresses these earlier issues and users should now be able to safely update to the latest iOS version through the normal software update process.
Jawbone CEO Hosain Rahman says the company is “still committed” to the wearables business, refuting recent reports that Jawbone is exiting the wearables business or going out of business altogether. In a blog post on the company’s website, Rahman denies recent media reports as “unequivocally false,” noting that the speculation appeared to come from “wrongful insinuations” made by “a particular digital publication,” and although the publication later made a correction, this was not done until after other media picked up on the news and spread it further. Rahman emphasizes that Jawbone “remains wholly committed to innovating in and building great wearables products” and has technology in the pipeline that they “look forward to sharing ... with the world.”
Apple Pay is “struggling” to succeed outside of the U.S., according to a new article from Reuters. The report notes that Apple has made “only a small dent” in the global payments market, due in part to technical challenges, low consumer adoption, and resistance by banks to embrace the new payment technology. Despite being available in six countries as of today, following the recent large scale Canadian launch, Apple Pay’s usage last year only amounted to $10.9 billion, which the report notes is less than the annual volume of transactions in Kenya, a country that leads the world in mobile payment adoption. Although the bulk of that usage is said to be U.S.-centric, it’s worth noting that Apple Pay’s first rollout outside of the U.S. was in the middle of the year, with other countries such as Australia, Canada, and China coming on toward the very end of 2015, many with very limited participation from banks.
Apple has launched its annual Back to School promotion for 2016, providing a free pair of Beats headphones to eligible students purchasing a new Mac, iPad, or iPhone for college or university. Students purchasing any new Mac model will receive a free pair of Beats Solo2 Wireless Headphones, valued at $300, while those purchasing an iPad Pro, iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6 Plus, or iPhone 6s Plus will get Beats Powerbeats2 Wireless Headphones, valued at $200. As with prior promotions, the promotion takes the form of an instant credit for the pre-tax price of the headphones, meaning the customer will still be responsible for any sales taxes that might otherwise apply. Standard Apple student discounts also apply on Mac and iPad purchases. The Apple Back to School promotion runs from today through Sept. 5, and users can take advantage of the offer by purchasing a Mac, iPad Pro, or iPhone at any Apple Retail Store of the online Apple Store for Education, and buyers must be enrolled in an eligible college, university, or similar higher education institution in order to qualify.